When you are producing indie content, especially in a medium that is as niche as comic books/visual literature it can often be disheartening to not see the returns you need off the bat. Breaking even (all your costs are offset by all your income, where profit equals zero), while not a massive measure of success it is still one of the goals when you are starting out – even then getting to that break-even is a hurdle in self-published comics.
In the beginning, when you ARE the business it can be hard to separate how much the books/materials are costing you. Do you consider transport to conventions a cost? parking? registration for the table to be able to sell? All of this fall and others fall under the “cost of sales” in your Statement of profit and loss. Of course, the cost of printing the books themselves is what you’re really trying to clear off so you can get that oh so sweet profit at the end of the day. But now that you’ve paid a hefty sum for the books you want to sell, how do you price your books? Do you absorb the entirety of your costs into the profit margin of a single book? do you set the price per batch? Have you considered the market rate? Selling at $15 when everyone in your aisle is set to at most $3 with a higher page count, better quality, and better art?
These are all internal decisions and considerations you have to make for yourself and your livelihood. Research and review based on the people in your market. Costs aside what helps maximizing your income when you are producing indie comics?
Multiple Revenue Streams
Yes, print and sell your book directly to consumers at a convention.
But don’t stop there. We live in a generation where we consume content en masse, people want to be able to binge content at a price point that is valuable to them. Like Netflix, find a platform that can host your content using the subscription model. If you’re creating content fast enough or if you have a big enough library of comics to sell, you can host them yourself online, though the time that is taken to curate not only the content, the website, and subscribers can become a strain in itself.
Behind the scenes, there was a time where I had “Making the Movie” autotuned and set as a reminder on my TV. There is a massive fascination with how things work. And creative works are no exception. Here instead of stunt doubles and practical effects, you package the idea of how the book came together from inception, to script, to art direction, to colour choices, and even the printing experiences you had. There is someone starting out who is looking to you for guidance. Sell them that insider info, things that you wish you knew going in before you started.
Still behind the scenes, many an artist is sustaining their living via models like Patreon that offer video demonstrations and live drawing of the work that is coming soon. The process of creation is so valuable because it is capturing your experience in the seconds that it’s happening. Having a private discord channel to talk directly to fans who have theories and input on the direction of the story is invaluable. As indie creators we don’t have a Comic-Con Hall H to interact with fans, this is the place to build and sustain your community.
Other channels to widen your income outside of conventions are pre-orders, early-bird specials, volumizing, Kickstarter team-ups, bookstore partnerships, and more.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on ways to max out income channels.
Chat to me on twitter: @billmasukuart